It is heartening to see that the spending by corporate sector of India on CSR is getting increased year by year. As per a survey report, CSR spending in the country during last two financial years is hovering above 90% of the prescribed expenditure which is defined by the mandatory norms of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013. It is learnt that education, health & sanitation and environment are the priority areas of spending by companies.
So, nothing wrong with it as far as we don’t weigh up the larger capacity of the corporate houses for making game-changing contributions to the society, and for the next generation in particular. However on the whole, Indian companies, across the types and sectors, are hardly working beyond health, education and environment, and are scarcely employing their innovation and aptitude for causes other than these.
Nevertheless, this potential of CSR can be optimally realized when efforts are put for driving the drivers. In this context, the job of corporate bodies in promotion of science and scientific spirit among the drivers of the future is highly urged.
Science & technology is a key sphere upon which companies grow up, function and thrive. They invariably possess all the resources, be it human resource, knowledge or infrastructure, which are, one way or the other, associated and based on science and technology. Undoubtedly, several Indian companies, public sector undertakings as well as private bodies, have provided major breakthroughs over the years and have contributed significantly to national well-being through application of science.
On the other hand, nobody can rebuff the fact that our country falls far behind in the global ranking of scientific spirit among general population. While India can boast of its demographic dividend considering its largest share in world’s young populace, having the next generation bereft of scientific temperament may not boost this boast. If this state prevails in long run, India may end up among the nations with lower socio-economic situation.
In this setting, it is earnestly called for that Indian companies as well as multinationals operating in India support, through their CSR initiative, in generating and building up scientific mindset among children and youth of this country.
They can effectively work in tandem with the Government in preparing the future generation to espouse and cultivate scientific thinking. Thus, the children and young mass of the country will be able to be creative and innovative, and contribute to society in their own ways and professions. Scientific thinking and attitude in action will alleviate numerous problems the society is facing today and aid in sustainable development.
There are exemplary and inspiring stories, though sparse in spread and small in number, of how small innovations and technological solutions have bettered the life and livelihood of common people in rural and sub-urban areas of India. These stories need to be encouraged, replicated and proliferated by the companies.
Further, by this way corporate firms may ensure their advantage of getting quality manpower with scientific bent of mind from the society and get required inputs, locally from these small innovations, needed for their operation in a sustainable manner, thus creating a win-win situation.
For promotion of the spirit of science among general public, corporate houses may take up several initiatives. Few evocative ideas may be considered:
- Corporate houses may put up their resources for this cause. Their human resource i.e. experienced employees can contribute to science education. Their experience and knowledge gained over the years may be shared with teachers and students who can percolate these further. Technological resource and infrastructure of the companies may be harnessed for learning exposure of young generation.
- CSR fund may be provided for establishing infrastructure for science education. Companies may pump financial resource to schools functioning in remote and inaccessible areas for building up their science laboratories and workshops.
- Companies may contribute in promotion of start-up ecosystem by supporting incubation centres in colleges, schools and for rural youth.
- Companies need to develop knowledge and skill of rural livelihood earners (farmers, artisans and small businessmen) on adoption of new technologies.
- CSR may initiate innovative programmes in schools and colleges. Also, innovations of students, farmers, and teachers may be incentivized. And, such success stories may be publicized.
- Companies should adopt catch them young policy and nurture young minds from a very early stage of formative period of children.
About the Author: Himanshu Sekhar Panigrahi is the Dy. Manager – CSR working at Hindustan Copper Limited (A Government of India Enterprise).
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